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Shar2

Douglas TBD-1A Devastator Floatplane. 1:48

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Douglas TBD-1A Devastator Floatplane

1:48 Great Wall Hobby

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History

The Douglas TBD-1A aircraft was a specially modified standard TBD-1, mounted on Edo floats. The very first production TBD-1 off the line, BuNo.0208, was selected as the test aircraft. It was originally conceived as a test bed for the Dutch Navy, as the Dutch were interested in procuring the type for their use in the Dutch East Indies. Events in Europe at the time precluded the order and it never materialised. However, the single aircraft converted was retained by the US Navy to test different torpedo variants. It was often joked that the TBD-1A dropped more torpedoes in testing than the entire fleet did in WW2. This may not be too far from the truth, as it saw service from the beginning of 1939 out of Newport, Rhode Island, USA, long before the US entered the war in 1941.

The Model

The kit comes in a very attractive top opening box with an artists impression of the aircraft presumably taking off from quite a heavy sea. On opening the initial impression is very good indeed. There are five sprues of medium grey styrene, a separate cowling, one sprue of clear styrene, all carefully protected in their individual poly bags. Also included is a small etched brass fret, two metal parts, a large sheet of masks and the decal sheet.

The mouldings are superb, with crisp fine details in the form of rivets, panel lines, (raised where required), even the corrugated upper wings look more to scale than the some other manufacturers releases of the base aircraft. There is absolutely no sign of flash or imperfections on the review sample, and only a few moulding pips.

Construction begins with the pilots, and navigators seats and there complex looking set of etched seat belts, followed by the radio operator/rear gunners rotating seat, made up of the seat pan, lower support bar and ring shaped top section. Onto the top section the race and gun traversing mechanism/mount is attached. The pilots’ seat is the attached to the supports, and then onto the bulkhead, which is then slide into position into the cockpit tub, followed by the control column, rudder pedals. The navigators’ seat is then fixed into place, followed by the mid bulkhead, foreward bulkhead, radio stack, the pilots throttle lever and torpedo release lever. The shoulder height cockpit deck is then fitted out with the gunners’ seat assembly from the underside, which requires the fitting of three PE brackets. Turning the deck over the fire bottle, DF loop aerial, and the 30cal machine gun, consisting of a one piece gun, firing handles, magazine tray and magazine, is fitted to the gunners’ seat mount. The machine gun can be posed either in the firing position or stowed.

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Before the fuselage can be closed up there are several fittings to be fitted to the cockpit sides, such as more pilots’ controls and the small side windows. With the cockpit assembly fitted to one half of the fuselage the upper and lower instrument panels are then painted up and glued into position. The instrument panels and side consoles have very nicely rendered instruments which will take some careful painting to make the most of them. With everything in place the fuselage halves can be closed up. The pilots’ headrest support is then attached, along with several other fittings on and around the headrest. The complex torpedo ranging sight in then assembled and fitted the front coaming. This is a very detailed and fiddly assembly and is made entirely of PE parts so take care not to feed the carpet monster.

The engine, consisting of the two banks of cylinders plus two sets of control rods, is assembled. To this, the crankcase cover and air intake pipe ring is attached. The two exhaust manifolds are then fitted to the front of the fuselage, followed by the engine. At this point the two piece horizontal tailplanes are assembled and attached their respective sides. The engine cowling is mated to the gill flaps and then fitted to over the engine to the fuselage. The instructions call for the canopy to be assembled here, if the closed canopy is chosen then this can be done as it is a single piece moulding. If the open canopy is chosen, leave off the sliding parts an only fit the fixed parts, thus protecting the fragile internal structures.

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Construction of the wing begins with the single piece lower centre section being fitted to the fuselage, followed by the two upper inner sections can be attached. The torpedo bomb sight windows/doors are assembled with one layer of styrene and two layers of PE. The three piece oil cooler is also assembled, then attached to the lower wing, whilst the bomb sight doors are attached in either open or closed condition under the foreward fuselage. The separate flaps are also fitted at this point, presumably in either retracted or lowered state, but the instructions aren’t particularly clear on this. The torpedo mounting plate is then fitted to the fuselage centre section and the torpedo, made up of front and rear body sections and twin PE propellers, can be attached.

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Because the original aircraft was meant to be carrier based it was fitted with folding wings, well this wasn’t dispensed with just because they fitted floats. The inner wing fold joints are added along with some nice detail parts, whilst the tow piece outer wing panels are joined and fitted with the separate ailerons, the reciprocal fold joins and the pitot probe on the starboard wing leading edge. PE strengthening brackets are then attached and the wings joined with the two metal wing fold hinges, although it would be wise to leave this until later in the build, as the model will need to be set upside down to allow the fitting of the floats. I’m not sure how well the wings will fit if the option to have them extended will be, as there doesn’t appear to be optional parts to cater for this, being just a butt joint. It may be an idea to use some metal rod to give the join some strength. Each float consists of inner and outer halves with a separate top deck. To each there are a number of cleats attached fore and aft, followed by the nose tip and rudder. Each float is then fitted with their respective support struts, which when set firmly; the two assemblies can be attached to the underside of the model.

Decals

The decal sheet provides markings for the one aircraft produced. They are very nicely printed, with no sign of carrier film, in good register and nicely opaque. Along with the national markings, you also get the identification and serial numbers, plus some stencils, access walkways and the propeller blade tip stripes. If you’d rather paint the main markings, GWH have provided a full mask sheet just for this occasion, although how good the masks fit over the corrugations on the upper wings is any ones guess. The mask sheet also includes masking panels for the cockpit canopy/canopies.

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Conclusion

Considering that only one aircraft was produced, it does come as a bit of a surprise that Great Wall Hobby decided to release it. That said they turned out what looks like a very nice kit and it’s certainly unusual. Being pre-war the colours are bright with the then standard yellow upper wings, but it would have been nice to have had a “what if” set of markings for the proposed Dutch operated aircraft. Overall a very nice kit that will get people talking at club meets or shows. Highly recommended.

Available Soon


Review sample courtesy of
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A gentleman from our local IMPS chapter here in Rochester, NY, assisted in the production of this kit by loaning his scratchbuilt floats to GWH to use in preparing the kit.

Cheers,

Bill

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Cool bit of info. Thanks.

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Nice, nice, nice! Thank you for that review. The Dutch angle makes it a very compelling kit (for me anyway). Agreed on the lack of "what if" Dutch decals, but there are plenty of decals out there for that particular period so that should not be too big of a hurdle.

This goes on the "I want one NOW" list

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Nice review as ever Dave. Wow, I bet that was a slooooowwww aircraft!

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You're not wrong there Andy, it was a bit draggy. :D

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A friend (Hi Big John :bye: ) has got one of these on the go and Shar2 is right about the wing join being an issue if you want the wings extended. After a couple of efforts he has cut away the end faces of the wings and lined top and bottom with plastic card and sprue. Making a 'plug' for the outer section to slide onto. Then he assembled the upper and lowers together and, once set slid them together. The result was very solid.

The one area I've noticed is the cooling vents at the rear of the cowling. We'll be using a strip of drink can aluminium to make a ring the same outside diameter and cutting sections off to make new vents. We find having the printed side to the outside and roughening with fine wet and dry gives a good result that takes paint easily.

I'm going the What If with mine and will do the same but omit the wing fold completely. She'll be a Dutch Bird once I find suitable decals any suggestions Basosz?? I'm thinking Dutch East indies.

Thanks to Navybird's mate for helping them with the floats. How about a 48th C-47C floatplane in 48th :bounce:

Nice review as well and Thanks to Mike at MJW for getting me one at a rather better price than John's.... :bleh:

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Cheers Shar 2.

I'll be having one of those. I'd been looking for the wrong thing I didn't think of looking for 'Navy' options. But that's because I'm an idiot :clown:

Further intel from Big John about the open canopy option; parts E 5,9,10 and especially 11 are very thin and are easily broken, He found that it was easy to nip the base together while prepping them and then they split when he fitted them. One of mine has a tiny fault at the top which may explain it. I shall be a coward and use the closed option...but only so John can have my spares of course :wicked:

ANOTHER REVISED EDIT: I've been looking at the kit torpedo mounting arrangement and realised that it may not be right. On the carrier based plane the torpedo was slung between the two 500lb bomb racks by two straps linky I doubt the single floatplane was different but would love to know for sure. If needed the bomb shackles are on Sprue D parts 53 &4 (4th photo down above, just above the reduction gear housing). Not shown on the parts layout but present on my kit, the review one and Big John's.

This image (found on the Interweb) may help here

This picture from Hobby Search shows where the bomb shackles should go if needed

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They may need to be a little closer together than this according to the Tail Hook blog linked to above.

I hope this is of help and interest to somebody.

Edited by SleeperService

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